Gaza’s Forever War
The recent upsurge in violence between Hamas and Israel shows that the Palestinian cause has not gone away, despite the recent Abraham Accords establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab states. For Israel, the real danger lies not in Hamas-controlled Gaza, but in an increasingly mobilized Arab population within its own borders.
In this Big Picture, former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami says the current hostilities – including in mixed Jewish-Arab cities in pre-1967 Israel that were supposed to be exemplars of coexistence – has shattered the prevailing consensus among Israelis that Palestinian nationalism had been vanquished. But that won’t stop Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from pursuing a military campaign against Hamas, says Fawaz A. Gerges of the London School of Economics, not least because US President Joe Biden has given Israel what amounts to a green light to defend itself as it sees fit.
But how broadly should Israel interpret its right to self-defense? Princeton University’s Peter Singer, writing during the last major Israel-Hamas conflict in 2014, argued that while a country has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks, it does not have a right to do anything that can be construed as defensive, regardless of the cost to civilians.
Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt explains why a ceasefire will not be enough to break the cycle of violence, and proposes four principles that should underpin a lasting peace agreement and political settlement. Above all, as Kevin Watkins of Save the Children UK emphasized in a 2019 commentary, the international community must not allow the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza to slide into a full-fledged catastrophe.